The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Sunday prohibited the broadcasting and rebroadcasting of speeches and press talks by PTI chief Imran Khan on all satellite TV channels with immediate effect.

The ban comes hours after the PTI chairman addressed party workers outside his Zaman Park residence in Lahore and said that he had never “bowed before any man or institution, and will never let you do so as well”. He also lashed out at government leaders, alleging that they had stashed their wealth overseas and were given protection in legal cases by former army chief Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa.

In the prohibition order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the regulator referred to previous directives wherein all licencees were directed to “refrain from telecasting any content against state institutions”.

The authority noted that Imran, in his speeches and statements, was “leveling baseless allegations and spreading hate speech through his provocative statements against state institutions and officers which is prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order and is likely to disturb public peace and tranquility.”

Pemra said that licencees telecasted the content without the effective utilisation of the time delay mechanism, in violation of the authority’s laws and judgements by the apex court.

“… therefore, the competent authority i.e. chairman Pemra in view of the above mentioned background and reasons, in exercise of delegated powers of the authority vested in Section 27(a) of the Pemra Ordinance 2002 as amended by Pemra (Amendment) Act 2007, hereby prohibits broadcast/rebroadcast of speech(s)/press talks (recorded or live) of Imran Khan on all satellite TV channels with immediate effect,” the order said.

The authority also directed all satellite TV channels to ensure that an “impartial editorial board” is constituted to ensure that their platforms is not used by anyone for “uttering remarks in any manner which are contemptuous and against any state institution and hateful, prejudicial to law and order situation in the country”.

In case of non-compliance, the licence will be suspended under Section 30 of the Pemra Ordinance, 2002 without any show cause notice in public interest, the order said.

This is not the first time the media regulator has slapped a ban on the former premier’s speeches. Last year on August 21, Pemra had had imposed a blanket ban on live coverage of Imran’s speeches after he allegedly threatened Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Zeba Chaudhry, and the Islamabad Police IG and DIG, of “consequences” after the judge handed over physical custody of the ex-PM’s aide, Shahbaz Gill, to police for two days.

Subsequently, Imran had approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) which had then set aside the ban on September 6, 2022.

Two months later, on November 5, Pemra again slapped a ban on Imran’s press conferences. The development came after the PTI chief, in his first press conference since the assassination attempt on him at Wazirabad, doubled down on his accusations against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and a senior intelligence official — without giving any evidence — of hatching a plot to eliminate him, and demanded they immediately resign to ensure a fair investigation.

However, hours later the government instructed the media regulator to lift the ban with Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb saying at the time that the incumbent government believed in “democratic principles and constitutional freedoms of expression”.

‘PTI to challenge ban in court’

Reacting to the ban, PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry said that the government appeared to be “panicking”.

“In another nefarious attempt to silence Imran’s voice, the imported government has imposed a ban on broadcasting Imran’s speeches on TV,” he said. Fawad added that the PTI would challenge the ban in court and urged the media fraternity to do the same.

“Using Pemra as a political tool and banning leaders like @ImranKhanPTI will not address the challenges Pakistan faces today,” said PTI leader Ali Haider Zaidi.

PTI’s Omar Ayub Khan said that the “imported government has panicked”.

“If they think that prohibiting Imran Khan’s speeches through Pemra will have an impact, they are sadly mistaken and are living in a world of 25 years ago. The world and media channels have transformed,” he said.

“Condemnable,” said journalist Mubashir Zaidi.

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